Which players, who were fighting for a Heisman or National Championship 12 months ago, are going to be making an impact at the NFL level this season?
I'll break it down by offense and defense to keep things simple. As a head's up, there are going to be two glaring omissions from the defensive side of the ball. Carolina LB Luke Kuechly will unfortunately be left off the list as of this writing, he's still a backup. Dallas CB Morris Claiborne will also be off the list as he is still injured.
Quarterback's Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck
First two picks in the draft get to start from day one. Pretty self-explanatory. No?
RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Again, pretty self-explanatory, but I don't want to steal money here. Richardson is one of the most impressive running back prospects to come out in a long time. Even more so than his former teammate, and Heisman winner, Mark Ingram. Richardson has the potential to gain 2,000 total yards a season throughout his career. Defenses will be game-planning against him from Week 1 of his rookie year.
TE Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
I expect Fleener to likely lead all rookies in catches as Andrew Luck's security blanket, and one he is extremely familiar with. Fleener needs to improve as a blocker, but as a receiver, he's right in the mold of today's top Tight End's as far as athleticism.
DE Chandler Jones, New England Patriots
He'll be starting from day one, and will be counted on to be the top pass rusher for the Patriots. New England does a good job on defense of diversifying the looks they'll show you. They can even rotate between a 3-4 or a 4-3 on the same drive. Jones, and another rookie will be counted on to help this pass rush...
OLB Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots
Hightower will also be starting from day one, and like Jones, he'll be on the field as a speed pass rusher on the outside. Hightower is a complete linebacker, and will see a lot of playing time this season. Like Jones, he will be counted on to revamp the new-look New England defense. Whether that's in the 3-4 or 4-3, the duo will be expected to perform immediately.
DT Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
So a defensive line that already boasts Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins adds Cox to it? Dear coaches in the NFC, I'm cringing with you. Not to mention they also added Vinny Curry out of Marshall later in the draft. Philly's pass rush is going to be devastating to the weak Redskins and Cowboys offensive lines.
Two Sleeper Rookies: WR Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals; TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts